This talk could well be up there as one of my favourite TED talk's. Maybe it's because I stumbled across it as I was half way through her excellent book 'The Philisophical Baby'. Anyway, it's great. Watch it.
The book looks at how babies experience the world through play and experimentation and as a result learn at incredible rates. Describing children as the research and development department of the human species she points out that, like artists, children are able to imagine how the world could be different.
With age comes focus, caused mainly by institutions such as school and the workplace. It's not that children are 'bad at paying attention' they're just bad at 'not paying attention'. They're bad at getting rid of all the interesting peripheral things that could tell them something and just focusing on the thing that's 'important'. I like the reverse butterfly analogy she uses whereby adults are the caterpillars and babies are the butterflies:
"Another way of thinking about it is instead of thinking of babies and children as being like defective grownups, we should think about them as being a different developmental stage of the same species, kind of like caterpillars and butterflies, except that they're actually the brilliant butterflies who are flitting around the garden and exploring, and we're the caterpillars who are inching along our narrow, grownup, adult path".
She also goes on to talk about the impact mediation and travel has on our attention, something I blogged about recently. All great stuff.
I'm as guilty as anyone else working in my field of using wanky words when telling it like it is might have made life easier for everyone. To be fair to myself, in general I think I'm pretty good at holding back on the Birtspeak. I may talk a lot of nonsense, but I do so in plain English. Looking around at the language being used by some of my contemporaries I can't help wonder what planet they think we're on. The language confuses me and I'm a native. Allegedly.
There's no doubt as to why they do this though. It's called the Dr Fox Effect. It's nothing to do with a terrible DJ also know for talking a lot of nonsense, but a reference to an experiment carried out in 1976 aimed at testing teacher effectiveness.
The experimenters produced a lecture on 'Mathematical Game Theory as Applied to Physician Education,' given by Dr. Myron L. Fox from the Albert Einstein School of Medicine to a collection of physchologists at a conference in Tahoe. The thing is neither Dr. Fox or the Albert Einstein School of Medicine existed. They were part of a simple hoax.
A relatively famous actor was coached to deliver a completely meaningless lecture with an excessive use of 'double talk, neologisms, non sequiturs, and contradictory statements.' He was also encourage to adopt a 'lively demeanor, convey warmth toward his audience, and intersperse his nonsensical comments with humour'.
The result was amazing. The fifty-five psychiatrists, psychologists, educators, graduate students, and other professionals gave incredibly positive feedback. Fox’s nonverbal behaviours coupled with enough jargon to sell snow to Eskimos completely disguised what was a totally meaningless lecture.
Comments within the feedback suggested the lecture had 'given them food for thought', that 'Fox had presented the material in a clear manner' and 'put it across in an interesting way and incorporated plenty of good illustrative examples'.
So it seems style over substance and a healthy dose of jargon does have a placebo like impact when it comes to delivering presentations and lectures. The more nonsense you talk, the jargon you deliver, the confidence in your delivery, the bigger the impact. Music to the ears of a thousand social media consultants no doubt, though I think I'll be sticking to my own limited vocabulary.
Naturally my early thoughts centered around internet connected appliances and eco friendly structures. But in 1988 Talking heads released their last studio album, which had this brilliant track on it.
David Byrne's tongue in cheek vision of not being ready for a green future shaped my thinking around Lyddle End 2050, spinning my thoughts into a much deeper and darker direction than is natural for such a positive guy like myself.
The first bit of construction was building a Spotify playlist that would help me shape my vision. Thanks to the brilliant collaborative nature of their playlists everyone can add a track to the playlist. Feel free to chip in regardless of how different your vision of Lyddle End 2050 is from mine. It will be interesting to see how it ends up
So... as I said, it all gets a bit dark from here on. We all dream of a green future, but what if it was forced upon us at a rate we weren’t ready for or willing to accept. What if factories started vanishing before our eyes regardless of their economic health. High street names we know and love started disappearing, not because of a financial collapse but because they were forced out of business by the new green police for not adhering to extreme government policies.
"This was a Pizza Hut. Now it's all covered with daisies...I miss the honky tonks, Dairy Queens, and 7-Elevens... And as things fell apart nobody paid much attention"
Planes are grounded, car production brought to a halt, roads replaced by fields, alternative energy sources failing under the weight of demand. As the song says “If this is paradise, I wish I had a lawn mower”
Here's a glimse of my house in Lyddle End 2050. The solar panels on the side of my house haven’t worked since the riots of 2035 and the metal fronting on the front is protection against the looters and The Green Police. The collapse of the IMF, and the subsequent closure of the world’s banks, prior to The Environmentalist Party taking power leaves us living in a Mad Max like lawless state.
Everyone carries a gun. Everything is locked down. Everything has to be taken by force. In Lyddle End 2050 nipping next door for a cup of sugar takes on a whole new meaning. If you’re not fighting off The Green Police for imposing a 1 child per family limit you’re shooting your neighbor for stealing apples form your tree. We asked for a green future and we got it.
As for fully connected appliance and the internetofeverything... well... The internet in 2050 no longer exists as we knew it. Our faith after the first 5000 days was somewhat misplaced. This article in Wired about the man who 'broke the internet' coupled with the vulnerability of 'The Cloud' made me think about how totally insane the whole idea of the internet is in the first place.
"It was the ultimate hack. He was looking at an error coded into the
heart of the Internet's infrastructure. This was not a security hole in
Windows or a software bug in a Cisco router. This would allow him to
reassign any Web address, reroute anyone's email, take over banking
sites, or simply scramble the entire global system"
We were one good hack away from surrendering all our secrets and the great hack of 2045 gave one man more power than all the superpowers combined. As a result our fully connected world disconnected piece by piece faster than you could say "Can I have an Oyster Card please". Fibre optic cables were ripped from under the floors and we couldn't smash RFID enabled possessions quickly enough. TVs, gaming systems, fridges, cookers, phones, items of clothing, bank cards, doors, windows, clothes, toothbrushes...
We spent 45 years teaching everything we owned to talk to servers without ever giving a second thought to what it would be like if those servers fell into the hands of one man. He knew our every move... and I mean our every move. He controlled the internet, he controlled what was left of the banks and he controlled our houses remotely. We couldn't brush our teeth without him knowing how many stokes it took and we couldn't put food in the fridge without him knowing the fat content of each item. Once again paranoia took hold and the only way to deal with it was to destroy everything.
So, my Lyddle End 2050 house is an unconnected steel structure, a hollow shell surrounded by over grown trees and fields, protected by guns and free from possessions. Still, it has a wicked soundtrack. Can't wait for the street party.